Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Tao of Pooh

The Tao of Pooh


A long time ago, when I was in college, I first learned of karate from my roommate who was training with Okazaki Sensei at Temple. While he showed me some so he could practice with me, I did not study it.


My own interest at that time grew into linguistic philosophy, and an outgrowth of those studies Chinese Taoism. Lao Tzu, Chang Tzu, the I Ching and so on. Not that I was Taoist, but I did quite a bit of reading on it. Of course years later I did study tai chi and grew to appreciate those studies over the years a bit more.


And Isshinryu’s founder, Shimabuku Tatsuo, himself did use the I Ching, in his role as a fortuneteller. So a bit of me understands this as well.


Taoism is a very old Chinese tradition. Older than Chan Buddhism (in Japan which became Zen Buddhism). There is no simple way to express that which cannot be expressed.


However this text, The Tao of Pooh, does at least use humor of Pooh to make a start at the topic.


Should you ever have an interest, perhaps this could be a humble start.




“Do you really want to be happy? You can begin by being appreciative of who you are and what you've got.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


 “The surest way to become Tense, Awkward, and Confused is to develop a mind that tries too hard - one that thinks too much.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


 “Lots of people talk to animals...Not very many listen though...that's the problem.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

“Things just happen in the right way, at the right time. At least when you let them, when you work with circumstances instead of saying, 'This isn't supposed to be happening this way,' and trying harder to make it happen some other way.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


“Rabbit's clever," said Pooh thoughtfully.
"Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit's clever."
"And he has Brain."
"Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit has Brain."
There was a long silence.
"I suppose," said Pooh, "that that's why he never understands anything.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh



“You'd be surprised how many people violate this simple principle every day of their lives and try to fit square pegs into round holes, ignoring the clear reality that Things Are As They Are.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


“We don't need to shift our responsibilities onto the shoulders of some deified Spiritual Superman, or sit around and wait for Fate to come knocking at the door. We simply need to believe in the power that's within us, and use it. When we do that, and stop imitating others and competing against them, things begin to work for us.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


“How can you get very far,
If you don't know who you are?
How can you do what you ought,
If you don't know what you've got?
And if you don't know which to do
Of all the things in front of you,
Then what you'll have when you are through
Is just a mess without a clue
Of all the best that can come true
If you know What and Which and Who.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


“Wisdom, Happiness, and Courage are not waiting somewhere out beyond sight at the end of a straight line; they're part of a continuous cycle that begins right here. They're not only the ending, but the beginning as well.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


“You can't save time. You can only spend it, but you can spend it wisely or foolishly.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

“If people were superior to animals, they'd take good care of them," said Pooh.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

“The Christmas presents once opened are Not So Much Fun as they were while we were in the process of examining, lifting, shaking, thinking about, and opening them. Three hundred sixty-five days later, we try again and find that the same thing has happened. Each time the goal is reached, it becomes Not So Much Fun, and we're off to reach the next one, then the next one, then the next.

That doesn't mean that the goals we have don't count. They do, mostly because they cause us to go through the process and it's the process that makes us wise, happy, or whatever. If we do things in the wrong sort of way, it makes us miserable, angry, confused, and things like that. The goal has to be right for us, and it has to be beneficial, in order to ensure a beneficial process. But aside from that, it's really the process that's important.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

“The wise know their limitations; the foolish do not.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


“When you discard arrogance, complexity, and a few other things that get in the way, sooner or later you will discover that simple, childlike, and mysterious secret known to those of the Uncarved Block: Life is Fun.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


“A clever mind is not a heart. Knowledge doesn't really care, wisdom does.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


“A way of life that keeps saying 'Around the next corner, above the next step,' works against the natural order of things and makes it so difficult to be happy and good.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


“The play-it-safe pessimists of the world never accomplish much of anything, because they don't look clearly and objectively at situations, they don't recognize or believe in their own abilities to overcome even the smallest amount of risk.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


“When we learn to work with our own Inner Nature, and with the natural laws operating around us, we reach the level of Wu Wei. Then we work with the natural order of things and operate on the principle of minimal effort. Since the natural world follows that principle, it does not make mistakes. Mistakes are made–or imagined–by man, the creature with the overloaded Brain who separates himself from the supporting network of natural laws by interfering and trying too hard.

When you work with Wu Wei, you put the round peg in the round hole and the square peg in the square hole. No stress, no struggle. Egotistical Desire tries to force the round peg into the square hole and the square peg into the round hole. Cleverness tries to devise craftier ways of making pegs fit where they don’t belong. Knowledge tries to figure out why round pegs fit into round holes, but not square holes. Wu Wei doesn’t try. It doesn’t think about it. It just does it. And when it does, it doesn’t appear to do much of anything. But Things Get Done.

When you work with Wu Wei, you have no real accidents. Things may get a little Odd at times, but they work out. You don’t have to try very hard to make them work out; you just let them. [...] If you’re in tune with The Way Things Work, then they work the way they need to, no matter what you may think about it at the time. Later on you can look back and say, "Oh, now I understand. That had to happen so that those could happen, and those had to happen in order for this to happen…" Then you realize that even if you’d tried to make it all turn out perfectly, you couldn’t have done better, and if you’d really tried, you would have made a mess of the whole thing.

Using Wu Wei, you go by circumstances and listen to your own intuition. "This isn’t the best time to do this. I’d better go that way." Like that. When you do that sort of thing, people may say you have a Sixth Sense or something. All it really is, though, is being Sensitive to Circumstances. That’s just natural. It’s only strange when you don’t listen.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

“To know the way,
we go the way,
we do the way.
The way we do,
the things we do,
it's all there in front of you.
But if you try too hard to see it,
you'll only become confused.
I am me and you are you.
As you can see;
but when you do
the things that you can do,
you will find the way.
The way will follow you.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


“But isn't the knowledge that comes from experience more valuable than the knowledge that doesn't? It seems fairly obvious to some of us that a lot of scholars need to go outside and sniff around - walk through the grass, talk to the animals. That sort of thing.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

“Now, scholars can be very useful and necessary, in their own dull and unamusing way. They provide a lot of information. It's just that there is Something More, and that Something More is what life is really all about.

Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


“Sourness and bitterness come from the interfering and unappreciative mind. Life itself, when understood and utilized for what it is, is sweet. That is the message of The Vinegar Tasters.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

“'d be surprised how many people violate this simple principle every day of their lives and try to fit square pegs into round holes, ignoring the clear reality that Things Are As They Are. We will let a selection from the writings of Chuang-tse illustrate: Hui-tse said to Chuang-tse, "I have a large tree which no carpenter can cut into lumber. Its branches and trunk are crooked and tough, covered with bumps and depressions. No builder would turn his head to look at it. Your teachings are the same - useless, without value. Therefore, no one pays attention to them."


"You complain that your tree is not valuable as lumber. But you could make use of the shade it provides, rest under its sheltering branches, and stroll beneath it, admiring its character and appearance. Since it would not be endangered by an axe, what could threaten its existence? It is useless to you only because you want to make it into something else and do not use it in its proper way.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

tags: taoism

“The masters of life know the way, for they listen to the voice within them, the voice of wisdom and simplicity, the voice that reasons beyond cleverness and knows beyond knowledge.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


“The honey doesn't taste so good once it is being eaten; the goal doesn't mean so much once it is reached; the reward is no so rewarding once it has been given. If we add up all the rewards in our lives, we won't have very much. But if we add up the spaces *between* the rewards, we'll come up with quite a bit. And if we add up the rewards *and* the spaces, then we'll have everything - every minute of the time that we spent.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

“The main problem with this great obsession for saving time is very simple: you can't save time. You can only spend it wisely or foolishly. The Bisy Backson has practically no time at all, because he's too busy wasting it by trying to save it. And by trying to save it, he ends up wasting the whole thing.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


“When you know and respect your Inner Nature, you know where you belong. You also know where you don't belong.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

“Sooner or later, we are bound to discover some things about ourselves that we don't like. But once we see they're there, we can decide what we want to do with them. Do we want to get rid of them completely, change them into other things, or use them in beneficial ways? The last two approaches are often especially Useful, since they avoid head on conflict, and therefore minimize struggle. Also, they allow those transformed characteristics to be added to the list of things we have that help us out.

In a similar manner, instead of struggling to erase what are referred to as negative emotions, we can learn to use them in positive ways. We could describe the principle like this: while pounding on the piano keys may produce noise, removing them doesn't exactly further the creation of music.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


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